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May: An Early Worm Attracts the Bird

             
               

The foot soldiers of the garden are back.

Worms are populating my compost and my garden as they migrate up from the depths, some times from over a meter deep, to forage on the organic matter that I generously left on top of the soil last fall. 

Worms love fallen leaves and hostas laid flat by late autumn rains, not to mention lots of detritus material that I would have sanitized from my garden years ago.  No longer though.  Now, rot and decay are my friends.  And worms. 

 

 

 

 

         
       

The worms thank me as they lay about in the early spring rain, of which most Canadians have received a plenty.  Worms forage on organic matter and leave behind (literally) nitrogen rich castings, aka poop.

I love worms.

They save me so much work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How so?

I don't have to turn my soil under after I spread compost on the surface of it.  And the natural microbes and other fine nutrients created by worms enhance the quality of my soil. 

Welcome to our first 'Food Gardening' newsletter of the year.  I have good news for you.  If you are anxiously waiting for frost free weather to start planting, like the long weekend of May, you don't have to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have already sown my first crop of beets, spinach, radishes, carrots (2 sowings!), Swiss chard, broccoli, cabbage, leeks, kale and all of the other 'gassy' vegetables.  

They prefer cool temperatures.  And I sow them because I can.

There will be enough to do when the warm, favourable weather of late May and early June arrives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Crops

             
               

As days get longer, so do my tomato plants.  I am busy pricking them out of seeding trays and potting them up into 4" pots. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

             
               

All of my transplants get the worm castings treatment.  For every 10 parts container mix that I use, I add one part Marks Choice Worm Castings.   

It makes ALL the difference.

All of the active microbes, beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizae (you don't have to remember these technical words) work in the potting mix to promote roots, growth, general plant health and disease resistance. 

Easy.

Effective.

Fun.  

Inexpensive.    

 

 

Things To Do in your Food Garden now:

             
               

1. Once soil is dry about 3 cm deep (ha!) prepare it for planting.  I spread two centimetres of composted manure over my entire planting area.  

I recommend Bio Max manure as it is registered and approved by the Composting Council of Canada.  It is healthy, rich in the   'good' stuff and it works.  

I mix ten parts manure to one part worm castings.  

Let it sit on the soil and earth worms will pull it down for you and put it to work.

 

 

 

 

             
               

2.    Start 'hardening' off frost tender plants like tomatoes and peppers.  This means placing them out of doors for short periods of about an hour, to start gradually increasing to a full day and then in about 2 weeks leaving them out over night.  The idea is to get the tender darlings used to the intensity of the sun, wind and cool evening temps before you plant outdoors in 10 days to 2 weeks. 

3.   Feed your transplants.  10-52-10 or compost tea will get them off to a good start.  Compost tea is made by 'steeping' a half filled pillow case with compost or composted manure in your rain barrel of a large bucket.  After 48 hours it is ready.  Mix 3 parts water with one part compost tea for great, all natural fertilizer.

4.    Start cucumbers, melons, squash, and the like in peat pots (they don't like to be disturbed) indoors now.  Avoid seed rot by sowing each seed vertically. 

5.    Build a cold frame.  (optional)  A great way to extend the season and get a head start on your veggie crops!

 

             

               

6.    Sow grass seed.  Use the new Golfgreen Iron Plus Lawn Recovery 4 in 1.  Amazing!  It contains top quality grass seed, pelletized compost, nitrogen and iron... and you can apply it using your fertilizer spreader.  3 weeks later Golfgreen Iron Plus lawn fertilizer.  

The results are incredible... your lawn will be so green it will appear almost blue-green.  I know, you can't eat your lawn (but sheep can, and you can eat them, unless you don't). So why is this tip in a 'food gardening' newsletter?  This is a perfect time of year to do this. 

Keep your knees dirty (or use my new Mark's Choice knee pads, only at Home Hardware).

Yours,

Mark  

Merchant of edible beauty

 Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author and broadcaster. You can sign up for his free monthly newsletter and find his weekly podcast & blog at www.markcullen.com. Watch Mark on CTV Canada AM every Thursday at 8:45 am (EST). Mark's latest book The Canadian Garden Primer, An Organic Approach (5010-205), is available at Home Hardware.

 

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